In past articles we have covered how to structure and plan a season. This year best laid plans have been hit with a wave of uncertainty. Many sports governing bodies have postponed races and in some cases canceled them altogether. A well structured program will be built around the major competition of a season. What if your main event has been cancelled or moved? Should your training plan now change or should you double up and keep going?
Timing is key.
You should look at the timing of changes. If your main race or alteration is months away then you may not need to change things until closer to the time. For the majority of individuals changes will be fairly immediate and the future is uncertain. In most cases the phases of our training may be tweaked to cover most eventualities.
Back to base.
For most sports, developing general capacities is rarely a detriment to performance. This may be aerobic endurance, strength or stability among others. These abilities often take the longest duration to develop and normally make up the majority of our offseason. To sharpen ourselves for competition we make our training specific to the demands and usually increase intensity. Our adaptation to this sharpening approach is usually quite rapid. For many individuals they jump to this speciality phase without really completing a base phase. Usually this is a product of procrastination or injury.
If we redirect our focus back to building our base capabilities we only increase our ability to perform later when we become more specific. For many summer athletes, they had completed their base phase and were now looking to build towards competition. The changes to racing schedules has now left them hurtling towards an uncertain point.
A very simple yet effective adaption to the situation would be to extend the base phase indefinitely. It is unlikely that competitions will start back immediately or without some warning. Even if things start back quickly then you will be fresh to start a new phase of training and will have avoided any staleness from setting in.
How to do it?
As many base phases of training have been completed it’s hard to know how to backtrack and still get results. It is simply a case of re-establishing a baseline and identifying weaknesses. There are many performance tests that can be used to give a benchmark of current ability and now is a very good time to complete one. Small simulations can also be run to try and tease out any potential performance limiters that are not related to physiology.
From this point one must structure a plan similar to one at the beginning of your annual program. This is an unusual occurrence that you may complete a double offseason but that is exactly the type of approach that will yield positive benefits and avoid issues such as misstiming form and or losing motivation. For those who are unfamiliar with testing and/or evaluating their abilities, now is a good time to put some attention into it without sacrificing focus on competition.
What to look for?
Now is a time to look for weaknesses that may have been overlooked or rarely have the time to be addressed. Balance, stability and flexibility are commonly disregarded for other major abilities like speed. The time we now have available is a major opportunity to either address weaknesses or push your abilities farther. It will be very likely that world records will fall later in the year as athletes will have had one of the longest known offseasons and shortest competition season. For smart and effective athletes, they will be fit and more fresh than they have ever been; a balance which is always challenged when competitions come too regularly.
What about rescheduling?
The reality is that there is a massive amount of uncertainty around when things will return to normal. The timeframe of a re commencement of competitions is also uncertain. For this reason focusing on a single race will become a risky strategy. It is better to focus on lifting your general capacities and abilities until there is an indication of which competitions will return and when. At that point you can make more definitive plans around which competitions are positioned optimally for you to specifically prepare for. This is very much a case of making hay while the sun shines!!
Many athletes are now in serious doubt over their plans and training. This is completely understandable and it is likely that what has worked before in terms of schedule and timing will not work this year. A more simplified approach must be taken in order to ensure that you continue to progress in the absence of certainty.
If you feel like this is a time for you to address weaknesses or perhaps need help in restructuring your plans then we’d love to hear from you. We specialize in tailormade programs which are based on the individual and their needs
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